A few weeks ago Tom offered up a machine one of his clients was giving away and I happened to be fastest on the 'reply' draw. It is a beast: tower configuration, three power supplies, three hot-swappable SCSI drives (with a few more bays) and a case made out of heavy lead or something. (It needs a new CMOS battery too, no big deal.)
At first I hauled it into work thinking that it would be an easy install: most linux installs are pretty simple nowadays. After a little while of fiddling I figured it wasn't going to happen (Compaq-specific hardware configuration) and I didn't want to burn anymore work time doing it, even if it was going to be tangentially useful for work. So I brought it home
I actually had another, more powerful, reason for bringing it home: it is really loud. Its normal home is a server room away from normal humans; in an office environment it's like a rocket. One of the folks at the Perlmongers meeting last week thought it might be because I only had two of the three power supplies plugged in, but it's not true -- I have all three plugged in right now and it's a racket.
Christmas and other goings-on have sidelined me but I finally got back to the machine this evening. It took a while to hit on the correct sequence of installation events but it's now grabbing a bunch of Debian packages for post-basic install. (This is my first Debian install, just to see what it's like.) Here's what I did:
After a reboot you'll get the crazy-long SCSI bootup procedure and then it'll ask you something like, "Press F10 for System Partition Utilities" If you wait it'll drop to the first bootable partition which is where it'll find GRUB's boot record and get everything rocking. Debian went though what must be its normal installation procedures and, like I said, is downloading packages as I type. The only hitch in that was the bizarre locale choice screen: it selected a good default, but I had no idea it had done so and had to scroll down a curses-list of about 800 other locales with inscrutable codenames. Feh.
BTW, I actually did try the Gentoo LiveCD install with this, but it kept barfing up weird SQUASHFS errors, probably because it couldn't find some hardware even though I gave it the 'doscsi' boot parameter. Oh well.